Last week I watched what I could of the unRepublican Convention, where the reactionaries and nationalists anointed their cult of personality candidate. This week I’ll listen to the Democrats and think about who I can bring myself to vote for in November. As soon as The Donald became the presumptive nominee I decided I would give Hillary Clinton my vote if I felt she needed it. But I live in Minnesota and we’re not going to break our Democratic streak anytime soon (we’re the only state Reagan lost in 84, don’t cha know). There are many alternatives out there to choose from but only three, from what I can tell, that are mathematically viable (only three are on enough state ballots to theoretically win).
First is Darrell Castle of the Constitution Party, who has no realistic chance of winning even one state. I couldn’t find a video ad from his ultra-low budget campaign to show here and had to settle for this clip from his audio podcast, which is the featured item on his party’s website:
If you didn’t fall asleep listening to him, you probably realized he’s a nut. He comes out of the John Birch Society tradition, who originally believed the Soviets were on the verge of taking over America in the 1950s, and finally had to change their story into a much more complicated conspiracy when the Soviet Union fell apart more than three decades later. The Birchers are just a shell of what they once were but versions of their mentality can be found throughout our society, most directly in men like Castle, Alex Jones, and Glenn Beck, but also in the wave of madness that washed Trump onto the shore of the GOP. This doom and gloom, paranoid and bigoted view of reality – be it accusing President Kennedy of being a communist agent or accusing President Obama of being a Muslim agent, born in Africa – is so far from what America needs and so very destructive.
Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party represents a different segment of the right wing and one I used to strongly identify with. I voted Libertarian in 1996 and 2000, and still see a good deal of merit in some of their “fringe” positions (e.g. decriminalizing recreational drugs) and their general faith in market forces over government planning. After 9/11/2001, however, I couldn’t get with their often isolationist view of the world; nor could I ignore the conspiracy theories and other nonsense that too often fluoresces in their ranks. Could I put these things aside and go back to voting for them?
I must say that I was impressed by this ad from Johnson and his running mate, William Weld:
They come off as sensible alternatives to politics as usual. Unfortunately, Johnson often comes off as a less serious (if not unserious) candidate; as he did in this interview:
It would be hilarious if it was an SNL sketch, with someone playing Johnson, but it doesn’t seem very presidential to me. Granted, it’s far more presidential than Trump but that’s not saying much.
The last alternative is to run to the far left wing with Jill Stein of the Green Party. She is very actively going after Bernie Sanders Fans who can’t bring themselves to support Hillary – telling them to, “Keep the Revolution Going” – but I’m not one of those people. I can’t support the socialist end of the progressive movement and I don’t think we need any kind of revolutions.
I know she strikes a chord with many people who just want an alternative to the same old, same old, but I see no evidence that other countries are wildly better off than the USA, because they have a large number of viable parties to choose from. I see a lot of fractured collisions that lead to weak, failed governments; sometimes failed republics. Our informal two party system is easy to complain about but it has served us well for longer than most other nations have been self governing. You don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, as they used to say. Stein may claim that she is offering people the opportunity to vote for their “values” rather than their “fears” but she sounds very fearful of the very nature of our republic.
So, where does that leave me? A moderately center-right conservative (for lack of a better term). I’m not sure but I did find some hopeful things in last night’s DNC speeches, particularly the remarks of Sen. Cory Booker and First Lady Michelle Obama. I’m still not buying most of the fears or solution that Democrats are selling, and I’m no fan of the Clintons, but life doesn’t always present us with great choices and at least I can get behind what these two are selling here:
I feel like the America they love is the America I love. I believe the America they want is the America I want. Not in terms of particular policies but in terms of the national tone. They see America as a constant improvement, despite our missteps, rather than a once great nation in rapid decline and desperate need of saving. I wholeheartedly agree.